Francesca Tanksley surprises. The internationally-acclaimed jazz pianist and composer, described as “a vivid presence” by jazz critic Nat Hentoff, breaks through traditional expectations with the power of her musical vision. Acknowledged as a fine soloist, composer, and accompanist with such notable groups as the Billy Harper Quintet, the Jeff “Siege” Siegel Quartet, and the Erica Lindsay Quintet, she has performed throughout Europe, East and Southeast Asia, Scandinavia and South America as well as in the United States, and appears on numerous CD releases of these groups. Her compositional talent is featured on recordings by the Billy Harper Quintet, the Jeff Siegel Quartet, the Rob Scheps Quartet, as well as on her own Trio recording, entitled, Journey.

Other leading musicians with whom Francesca Tanksley has performed include David Newman, Howard Johnson, Laurel Massé of Manhattan Transfer, Reggie Workman, Cecil Payne, Nick Brignola, Kamau Adilifu, Charles Davis, Clifford Jordan, Jay Clayton, Slide Hampton, Sheila Jordan, Jimmy Cobb, Pat LaBarbera, and tap-dancers Katherine Kramer and Brenda Buffalino. She has been a featured artist on Marian McPartland's widely acclaimed National Public Radio series, Piano Jazz, and appears in the documentary, Women In Jazz by Burrill Crohn. Ms. Tanksley also is noted in the books, American Women In Jazz, by Sally Plaxin, and in Madam Jazz, by Leslie Gourse.

In addition to being an acclaimed accompanist and composer, Ms. Tanksley also leads the Francesca Tanksley Trio. Her 2002 debut recording, entitled Journey, features her original compositions and includes colleagues from the Billy Harper Quintet, drummer Newman Taylor Baker, bassist Clarence Seay, as well as guest vocalist Judy Bady. Commissioned works featuring the Francesca Tanksley Trio include a suite entitled, Goddess of the Sea, commissioned by St. Gregory’s Church of Woodstock, New York, as well as original compositions commissioned by tap dancer Katherine Kramer at Skidmore College, NY, and Florida International University. The Francesca Tanksley Trio, has toured both in the U.S. and internationally, at venues including Sweet Basil in NYC, the Pleshakov Piano Museum in Hudson, NY, the Kalisz International Piano Jazz Festival, and jazz club Blue Note in Poznan, Poland.

Ms. Tanksley holds a Master's Degree in Music from Queens College, Queens, New York, and is the recipient of the Graduating Master's Award, the Eubie and Marion Blake Foundation Award, and the ASCAP Louis Armstrong Composers’ Scholarship Award. She has taught in various jazz workshops at numerous colleges, including the University of Southern California at Santa Cruz, Hampton University, Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute, Arizona State University, and Bard College. Ms. Tanksley served as faculty at New School University’s Jazz Program in New York City from 1995-2015, and is currently full-time Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, as well as Visiting Artist at Bard College at Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.

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"A vivid presence”
–Nat Hentoff, liner notes Dreamer/The Erica Lindsay Quintet

“This is a brilliant, commanding and original artist.”
–Mark Gallo,

"If you're at all familiar with the saxophonist Billy Harper's powerhouse quintet, you know what this compelling pianist can do."
–John Donahue, The New Yorker

"Tanksley is such a deep, grounded player; she knows exactly what she's up to, doesn't reach for effect. Her playing is fluid and full of moments of discovery."
–Rich Scheinin, Mercury News

“Tanksley, like [McCoy] Tyner, also has a spiritual dimension to her work … a gentle eloquence that contrasts with a pulsating quality.” –David Dupont, Cadence

“Ms. Tanksley reworked the vocabulary of McCoy Tyner as if she had taken just one small aspect of his style and developed it into a full language. She gave the music color, her harmonies and chording adding surprise to the performance.”
–Peter Watrous, The New York Times

“Outstanding on this recording is pianist Francesca Tanksley … her deep harmonic and rhythmic insights seem to inspire … as much as support … and her solos are swinging, thoughtful, surprising, and hard-driving, never failing to elevate the music.”
—Erik Lawrence, Chronogram

“a veritable dream machine of a player”
–Fern Franke, InsideOUT Magazine

“Tanksley’s playing, as well as writing, has an engaging appeal based on an impressive matching of warm and cool.”
–Tom Pierce,

“Francesca Tanksley is a very serious pianist.”
–Nils Jacobson,

“…rich in harmonic invention….”
–Royal Stokes, The Washington Post

“Point of departure for both Tanksley’s playing and writing is McCoy Tyner’s work, those Milestone albums where latinate leadsheets are torn up with velocitous zeal.”
–Tom Perchard, The Wire

“A revelation”
–Tomas Conrad, CD Review, review of Dreamer/The Erica Lindsay Quintet

“A mix of calculated musicianship and bold improvisation … Tanksley's compositions ... were a delight. Full of verve, humor and poignancy, they covered the full gambit of what jazz is all about.”
–John Paul Keeler, The Register-Star

“A peerless pianist…an elegant and deft jazz improviser….”
–Mikhail Horowitz, The Woodstock Times

“All eyes went to Francesca Tanksley [who is] proof that women are establishing a stronger and stronger presence on the jazz scene.”
–Roald Helgheim, festival puls [Norway]

“…like a tiger unleashed….”
–Mario Hernando, Malaya [Philippines]


Media Accolades for Francesca Tanksley Trio’s CD, Journey

Radio: Charted 11 weeks on Jazz Week and listed in Top Tens of CMJ (College Radio)!

“The new Francesca Tanskley CD is the most exciting piano album I've heard since Brad Mehldau's 'Largo' - it's filled with ideas, it's daring, it's original. I absolutely love playing it.”
–James Bickers, WFPK-FM jazz host

“Francesca is poised to take her rightful place in the higher echelon of today’s modernists both as a pianist and composer. Her first CD is proof positive.”
–Jimmy Heath

“This is mesmerizing, captivating and monumental music.”
–Mark Gallo,

“I'm a man who takes pride in knowing my pianists... and I'm going 'WHO IS THIS?' What a breath of fresh air... very angular... like Monk meets Brubeck. It knocked me out!”
-Brad Stone, Music Director at KSJS San Jose

“A fine debut.”
–David Dupont, Cadence

“The meshing of the trio is almost telepathic at times.”
–Terrell Holmes, All About Jazz

“A surprising debut indeed … Ms. Tanksley's strong sense of swing … the trio's synergy comes to fruition from the onset. … Overall, this CD should accelerate Ms. Tanksley's stature within modern jazz circles.”
–Glenn Astarita,

“It’s music that moves from the serene to the furious … there's not a phony or forced note in the set. In fact, Journey improves with each listening.”
–Rich Scheinin, Mercury News

“Above all else, the CD reflects a strikingly mature artist who has successfully integrated a spiritually exhilarating approach to music with an intelligent, well crafted command of her instrument, in conjunction with the trio as a whole.” –Tom Pierce,
“One can hear and feel in this superb unit that defining essence of some of the classic trios of the 60’s – the introspection of Bill Evans, the swing of Wynton Kelly, and the dynamism of McCoy Tyner – and still never lose sight of the fact that this is the Francesca Tanksley Trio.”
–Hal Miller

“This group breathes in as well as bellowing out, and performances are formed and re-formed accordingly.”
–Tom Perchard, The Wire

“Each song has a distinct personality, which the tight-knit trio acutely taps into. Whether it’s a shimmering tremolo or a metric shift in rhythmic feel, Tanksley seems to have a knack for adding just the right elegant touch to her well-crafted songs.”
– Randy Nordschow, The New Music Box

“The players are telepathically sympathetic … Journey fuses mainstream, straight-ahead values like melody and swing with an original character.”
–Seth Rogovoy, The Berkshire Eagle

“You know ... as I listened to Francesca's new CD, I was moved and again made aware of the fact that she is truly gifted as an artist. Ms. Tanksley seems to have the God-given quality to set up her solos and compositions in such a way that the listener feels comfortable enough to open up and listen with their hearts, and once this does occur, there seems to be a recognition of 'heavenly communication' between the artist, the music and the listener. Listen!!!”
–Billy Harper




With the Billy Harper Quintet:

Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 2 – 2009, Talking House Productions
Billy Harper in Concert with the Szczecin Technical University Choir2007, Arkadia DVD 72007
Soul Of An Angel2000, Metropolitan, MR 1120
If Our Hearts Could Only See1997, DIW 931
Somalia1994, Omagatoki, SC-7107
Live On Tour In The Far East, Volumes I, II, and III1992, Steeplechase SCCD 31311, 1993 SCCD 31321
Destiny Is Yours1990, Steeplechase, SCCD 31260

With the Francesca Tanksley Trio:

Journey2002, DreamCaller, DC 7168

With the Jeff “Siege” Siegel Quartet:

London Live 2018, ARC 2901
King of Xhosa2017, ARC 2710
Live in Europe – 2008, ARC 2005
Magical Spaces2005, CAP 989

With the Erica Lindsay Quartet:

Yes2006, ASR Records, Kansas City
Dreamer1989, Candid, CCD 79040

With the Blue Jade Trio:

Night Songs1995, Alpha, ALCB 3070

With Judy Bady/Piotr Wojtasik:

Blackout2010, SO JAZZ Records 006

Additional Credits with Robin Eubanks/Steve Turre:

Dedication1989, JMT, Polydor, 834 433-2


Recorded Compositions

Dance In The Question
Francesca Tanksley Journey
Billy Harper Destiny Is Yours
Billy Harper Live On Tour In the Far East, Vol. I
Jeff “Siege” Siegel Live in Europe
Rob Scheps

Dear Earth
Tim Strong Dear Earth – Tim Strong in New Zealand

Earnestly, Tenderly
Francesca Tanksley Journey

In Grace
Francesca Tanksley Journey

Into the Light
Francesca Tanksley Journey

Journey Without Distance
Francesca Tanksley Journey

Never Defeated
Francesca Tanksley Journey

Night Visions
Blue Jade Trio Night Songs

Francesca Tanksley Journey
Tim Strong Dear Earth – Tim Strong in New Zealand
Judy Bady/Piotr Wojtasik Blackout
Jeff Siegel King of Xhosa

Simple Heart
Francesca Tanksley Journey
Rob Scheps

Francesca Tanksley Journey

Tim Strong Dear Earth – Tim Strong in New Zealand

A New Freedom
Jeff Siegel London Live

Life On The Rock
Jeff Siegel King of Xhosa

Commissioned Compositions/Arrangements

“Ahora” –
commissioned by Skidmore College, New York, 1994, for tap dancer Katherine Kramer, a piece incorporating latin rhythms for a choreographed tap and modern dance piece

Goddess of the Sea –
commissioned by St. Gregory’s Church in Woodstock, NY, 2003, as part of their “Woodstock Cycle” series, a suite exploring an intra-cultural setting of a sacred story

by Steven Sondheim, and “Cool” by Leonard Bernstein – commissioned by vocalist Laurel Massé, 2004



United States

Carnegie Hall, Kool Jazz Festival, JVC Jazz Festival, Iridium, New York Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Sweet Basil/Sweet Rhythm, Lush Life, UJC Jazz Coalition, Bryant Park Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival, San Francisco Stern Grove Jazz Festival, Yoshi’s, Delaware Jazz Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Baltimore Jazz In Cool Places, Left Bank Jazz Society, Houston Jazz Festival, The Green Mill, Lake George Jazz Festival, Woodstock FM Jazz Coalition, The Painted Bride, Berkshire Jazz Festival, Woodstock Guild’s Kleinert, Rhinebeck Performing Arts Center, Waterville Jazz Festival, Calgary Children’s Festival, The Egg, The Phoenix Ritz Carlton, Smoke Jazz Supper Club, Belleayre Summer Festival. NYC Winter Jazz Festival


Festivals/Clubs in Japan, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, Holland, Finland, Norway, Poland, Israel, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria; U.S. State Department tours of South America (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Peru) and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Korea), Israel


For bookings and information, contact:

DreamCaller Productions
PO Box 886, Stone Ridge, NY 12484
Phone/Fax (845) 687-0238